|October is the time when upland bird hunting seasons kick into high gear.
Those hunting upland birds with dogs have the advantage of letting the canine companions do most of the work leading to the shot — like finding birds and then getting them to flush at the right time from the right place so effective shots can be taken.
For those who do not hunt behind dogs, upland birding is quite a different game. Finding the birds in the first place can be challenging.
In desert areas where hunters are after quail, it can be as simple as cruising two-tracks in a truck or on a quad, spotting quail crossing the open areas, dismounting and going after the birds on foot – follow where they have just gone.
UPLAND BIRD HUNTING can be a real blast, as author shows here with a nice ringneck pheasant.
Other times, it might be merely walking areas around water sources and either hearing the birds talk to each other, spotting runners, etc.
If the hunt is for pheasant in wild or farmed fields, walking-up the birds can work fine.
For all of those kinds of things, though, there are two kinds of calls that can help immensely. One is a locating call — where the hunter uses the call to get the bird(s) to answer. When the bird(s) answer, it is easy enough then to go to where the noise originated and get the bird(s) in the air.
The other kind of call is a hawk screamer. The wilder the birds are, the better hawk screamer calls work. These are particularly useful when the upland birds have decided to be runners rather than flyers.
Very often, when wild upland birds hear a hawk screamer, they lock-up in-place. That, then, allows the hunter to get close enough to force them to flush rather than to keep running.
Those two simple calls can make a huge difference on a hunt.
Although upland birds can spring from the ground and power into flight from virtually any direction, they still are subject to the physics of flying.
When fleeing, they may not always take off into the wind, as would a typical airplane, but when they want to gain altitude quickly, they’ll naturally tack into the wind.
Until the bird is in the six to 10 feet above the ground area, shear power can prevail. But once they have cleared the cover, they need to level off and establish their real flight direction and pick up air speed.
If there is much of a wind at all, the odds are that they will bank up and into the wind, or they will bank down and with the wind, often hooking before making a quick landing and then running.
Pay close attention if you can see them land — even if it is pretty far away. Although they can change direction on the ground at any moment, they tend to start running in the direction they are going on touchdown.
When in doubt, think about the birds’ operational parameters and you’ll be ahead of the game.